Tiling onto wood is easier than you think

One question I’m always asked if whether you can tile onto timber floors. Well the simple answer is yes, provided they are capable of carrying the additional loads and are sufficiently rigid and stable.

Tiling onto wood

If you don’t feel the that floor is strong enough, you can always fit extra noggins between the joists, or overboard with a tile backer board such as 6mm or 12mm BAL Board, or 15mm marine grade plywood, screwed down at 300mm centres ensuring screw heads are flush with the surface.

If the floor needs to be “made good”, i.e. levelled then it may be possible to use a levelling compound such BAL Level Max, which is suitable over timber at only 3mm, you must first prime the surface of the timber with two coats of neat BAL Prime APD, allow to dry between coats and best practice to apply 90° to the first coat

When tiling onto plywood overlaid timber then we recommend using a flexible adhesive such as BAL Rapid-Flex One, BAL Flex One or BAL Max Flex Fibre for example for speed on the job or when fixing larger format ceramics/stone, BAL Pourable One would be the ideal product

If you’re tiling direct onto a stable tongue and groove floorboard, then prime the surface with two neat coat BAL Prime APD in the same way, before using a highly flexible tile adhesive such as BAL Single Part Fastflex – ideally at 3-4mm. Alternatively you could try installing an uncoupling system like BAL Rapid-Mat  or BAL Flexbone VAried using BAL Rapid-Flex One. Note BAL Single Part Fastflex is NOT recommended to be used with BAL Rapid-Mat.

Cutting-edge, BAL Rapid-Mat is less than 1mm thick and works as a buffer layer to protect against the different rates of lateral movement in the timber and tiles surface which can cause tiles to crack or de-bond. BAL Flexbone VAried is a cavity mat system that also provides a waterproof membrane as well as uncoupling properties.

When grouting tiles laid over timber you should make the same considerations when choosing your grout as you do when choosing your adhesive.

That is to say, consider the need for flexibility to cope with the additional movement faced when tiling onto timber.

At BAL we would recommend a product like BAL Micromax2, which has extra flexibility that can compensate for the lateral movement. Alternatively consider BAL Wide Joint Grout with BAL Admix GT1 pre-diluted 1:1 with water, or BAL Micromax2 with BAL Admix GT1 pre-diluted 1:2 by volume with water when used with BAL Single Part Fastflex.

For further information or advice on tiling onto timber, contact BAL Technical Advisory and Specification Service